Proclamation of the Scripture Acts 2:1-21
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.
Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?
Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?
Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome
(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!
No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
Here ends this reading of the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Let us pray: God of All Power, Open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts with a spirit of wisdom and revelation. Help us to hear your voice, to see your ways, and to receive with joy your truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Message Flow Out from Within
Like the young adults we confirmed today, the disciples and apostles who experienced the Pentecost events were young adults. They were new Christians – Christ had died just 50 days earlier, and the Christian church was born on Pentecost Sunday, so everyone involved with the first Pentecost became a Christian on that day. They were young people with their lives ahead of them – just like the 7 young people we confirm this morning.
The people who were present at the first Christian Pentecost chose to follow Jesus. The people gathered closed up in the room before the Holy Spirit arrived were people who were close to Jesus while he was alive. They met Jesus and they knew they wanted to follow him. They didn’t put a lot of thought into it. In our confirmation Sunday School class this year, one of our young people was concerned that the immediacy of the Disciples commitment to Christ – it seemed a little “culty.” They met Jesus and immediately dropped everything to follow him. And, after he was gone, after he ascended to heaven, they were lost without him. So, they went to Jerusalem and locked themselves up in a room together. They were hiding under their “figurative” turtle shell, waiting for the next thing to happen.
Before he ascended to Heaven, Jesus told his friends the Holy Spirit was coming. But, what did that mean? What was the Holy Spirit? Was it a Spirit like a ghost? Would they be aware of its presence? How would they know when it arrived?
Pentecost was a Jewish festival – The name Pentecost comes from the Greek word Pente-coste, which means “fiftieth.” The festival comes fifty days after Passover and is called “Shavuot” in Hebrew. It is a harvest festival and it also celebrates the anniversary of when God gave Moses the 10 Commandments.
So, Jesus’ Disciples were locked together in a room in Jerusalem as the city filled up with pilgrims who came to celebrate the festival of Shavout. They probably heard the voices of the gathered pilgrims echoing through the cracks of the closed off windows. They were waiting for the Holy Spirit, but were also afraid that they would be arrested and imprisoned for being followers of Jesus. They were grappling with a lot of uncertainties–would they be punished for following Jesus? Would they be executed like he was? When would they be safe?
And then the Holy Spirit arrived! The doors and windows were flung open. The Spirit visibly appeared and what looked like tongues of fire rested on each of their heads. They were filled by the Spirit and it was like they were infused with knowledge and wisdom and light. They could speak and understand new languages. They could preach. They had new insight and clarity about their call to spread the message of Christ to the ends of the earth. They were pulled out of their cautious, depressive state and were emboldened by the new Spirit of God that entered their bodies and recharged their brains. They had a message to share and new languages to share it in.
The Holy Spirit stayed with the Disciples for the rest of their lives. Their brush with the Spirit was not a passing event, a moment in time. They were never without the Holy Spirit. They went on to start churches in Jerusalem and throughout the Roman world. Thomas traveled to faraway India and shared the Good News and founded churches there. The disciples and apostles still faced challenges and risks, but the presence of the Holy Spirit reassured them and supported them to be brave in the midst of their struggles.
Like the Disciples on the first Pentecost Day, we believe the Holy Spirit is here among us today. When we are baptized, the Holy Spirit is invoked and is poured into us as the water is poured over our heads. This morning, we Confirmed the Baptism of our young people. We again placed hands on them and invoked the Holy Spirit to fill them. We know our young people are going to face many joys and challenges in the coming years. They will face choices about what they will study and which occupations they will embrace. They will enter into romantic relationships and choose who they will take as their life partners. They are swiftly on their journey to adulthood and independence. We want them to know that as they mature, as they grow, the people of Trinity Christian UCC are rooting for them, and praying for them, and are here to support them. We also want them to know that no matter where they go or what they do, God is with them. God’s Holy Spirit has been poured into their hearts and into their heads. Nothing they can do will be alone, will be in isolation, because God will be with them, accompanying them and supporting them.
We know our young people will do great things. We know their talents exceed their awareness of what those talents are – yet. We are excited about everything they will accomplish over the next few years. And, as their church family, we are delighted they have made the choice, for themselves, to be followers of Jesus. We believe the presence of God in their lives will be an essential part of their becoming the upstanding adults they are destined to be. We pray their faith will be a comfort for them when they encounter hardships and will help make their successes even more beautiful.
We look forward to supporting and cheering them on through the next steps they take. And we know the Holy Spirit of God will be a part of all that they do.
Thanks be to God. Amen.